Starring Brendan Gleeson, Cavalry written and directed by John Michael McDonagh and is not easy to watch.
Cavalry, starring Brendan Gleeson opens in a Catholic confessional. In the first five minutes, a parishioner enters the confessional with Gleeson and describes how he was raped and abused by his priest when he was a child. He then threatens to kill Gleeson the following Sunday because while killing a guilty priest would be seen as normal, killing an innocent one would shock the world.
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Gleeson does a spectacular job portraying the feelings of an aging and tired priest and the rest of the cast, including Chris O’Dowd (the cop from Bridesmaids) and Aidan Gillen (Littlefinger from Game of Thrones) help reinforce that the entire community is aging.
The film’s greatest strength, though, is in the character Fiona, Gleeson’s daughter played by Kelly Reilly. Her arrival is due to a recent suicide attempt, and the way the script deals with that issue shows both what makes the film entertaining and difficult to swallow.
One of the more interesting scenes when considered from the perspective of modern Christianity happens when the priest played by Gleeson goes to investigate one of his parishoners who had come to mass with a black eye. He goes to her husband who promptly accuses the man she is currently sleeping with.
The priest is taken aback by the flippant way the husband talks aout his wife’s affair, but the man responds by saying that his wife has been happier than at any point previous in their marriage since she started sleeping with this other fellow.
The priest may not understand how modern dynamics of relationships don’t fit traditional catholic views, but he has to just keep going, supporting his parish however he can.
As Gleeson greets her at the train station he says that she committed “the classic error” of cutting across and not down. It is played as a joke, albeit an uncomfortable one. But in the next scene when someone at a local pub repeats the joke, she tells him to “stuff it,” demonstrating how the nature of the relationships in the film are dominated by intense history and personal politics.
Featuring heavy-hearted jokes about suicide and content concerning intimate partner violence, chronic disease and sexual abuse, the film is undoubtedly hard to watch. However, the film deals with those issues because it is trying to bring to light the issues that many churchgoers have often suppressed in their faith communities.